Friday, April 9, 2010

Celebrating Easter... with fire

We made a last minute decision to head out of town for the Easter holiday. The train tickets, at that point, were too expensive so we decided to rent a car for the long weekend (For US readers, Good Friday and the Monday after Easter are both considered holidays).

I am not sure what made us decide to head to the Harz Mountains but proximity was definitely a factor. It was only about a 2 1/2 hour car ride and got quite beautiful the closer we got to our destination.

We decided to stay in Braunlage. We noticed on their tourism website that they had a number of things to do including a Egg hunt (or schnitzeljagd), Osterfeuer (Easter bonfire), and even a Seilbahn.

I honestly had no idea what an Osterfeuer is and so I asked a few of my German friends. They all mentioned that it isn't normally done in Berlin. I still can't quite figure out their cultural significance of them (even Wikipedia seemed confused) so if you have information, leave it below in the comments.

I wasn't sure what to expect but thought that some kind of rituals purging Winter and welcoming Spring would be in order.

How wrong I was!

We started off the night feeding ourselves with the standard Wurst and beer (water for me!). They even had currywurst which I thought was a Berlin thing. There was one food stand and three beer stands if that gives you an idea of what was to come...

Behind us stood a big pile of trimmings and old Christmas trees just begging to be ignited. The pile was surprisingly long. The picture below is just the front.

The atmosphere was festive with very bad live music.

Finally the igniting of the Easter Bonfire began with very little fanfare. One person had a large blow torch to torch the trees and the other used a leaf blower to blow the flames around.

Soon, to Baby Bird's horror eventual delight, it was a raging fire. He kept exclaiming it was a "Big Fire" with his eyes as wide as saucers.

This was a serious fire folks.

Luckily for us, these two fine gentlemen were enjoying their beer controlling the fire.

We weren't able to stay the whole night but as it got darker, the crowd turned from older people drinking schnapps to younger people drinking schnapps.

And yes, I am 7 months pregnant in the pics above but poofy jackets are easy ways to disguise baby bumps... :)

More to come about our adventures in the Harz Mountains...


Blopper said...

Currywurst is definitely a German thing because they have a ton of it down here in Bavaria as well.

Kato said...

The Osterfeuer was supposed to drive away the winter spirits. Until the Christians annexed the custom at least.

There's also the Easter Wheel variant, where a giant burning wheel is rolled down a hill. That one's supposed to represent the sun driving away the winter darkness.